Cefn Coed Colliery Museum


Useful Information

photography
Coal works - a view near Neath in Glamorganshire, South Wales. Public Domain.
Location: Crynant, Neath Port Talbot.
8 km north of Neath. M4 exit 43, A465 towards Aberdulais, Resolven, Brecon, after 5 km exit on A4109 towards Aberdulais Falls, Cefn Coed Colliery Museum. 4.5 km on Neath Road.
(51.715251, -3.759374)
Open: Currently closed for maintenance.
APR to OCT daily 10:30-17.
[2022]
Fee: free.
[2022]
Classification: MineCoal Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided. Audioguide for download.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Cefn Coed Colliery Museum, Neath Rd, Creunant, Crynant, Neath SA10 8SN, Tel: +44-1639-750556. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

16th century with the development of the port of neath coal mining in the neath area begins.
1743 Herbert Mackworth begins mining at Onllwyn.
1864 opening of the Neath and Brecon Railway offers transport and rises production.
1872 David Bevan opens a pit at Blaendulais naming it the Seven Sisters after his seven daughters.
1920s Cefn Coed Colliery opened as an anthracite colliery by the Llwynonn Colliery Company.
1926 Amalgamated Anthracite Company took over the colliery.
1930 first coal produced.
1947 nationalisation.
1978 museum opened to the public.
2016 the listed headframe was dismantled due to safety concerns.
2021 serious structural problems prevent the museum from reopening.

Geology

Much of the western South Wales coalfield is high quality anthracite. The best coal came from the deepest seam called Big Vein, which was located 750 yards below ground. The other mined seams were named Dulais, Peacock, White Four Feet and the Nine Feet.

Description

Cefn Coed Pit was once the deepest anthracite coal mine in the world and one of the most dangerous coal mines in Wales. Because of this it was nicknamed The Slaughterhouse. The museum is located in the surface buildings of the mine, and the headframe still exists. The underground mine is not accessible, but the museum has a replica working seam. There are self-guided tours, audioguides, and guided tours by arrangement.

A special sight is the 1927 Worsley Mesnes Horizontal Duplex Cylinder Steam Winding engine. When the site was still in operation the steam powered winder was operating the elevator of the headframe. Today it is still demonstrated, but is operated by electricity. The Neath Gas Tram is the last surviving gas tram from the town and one of the few restored examples in the world. The Neath gas tram ran from 1875 until 1920 but was abandoned in favour of motor buses. The tram of the museum was used as a garden shed, where it was discovered in the 1980s, recovered and restored. And finally the Cefn Coed Museum is host to the Neath Model Railway Club. They have specialized on the age of steam in the Dulais Valley.

There are numerous anthracite coalmines in South West Wales. Actually there was mining since the 16th century, but the industrial revolution and the opening of the railroad offered both transports and consumers. The anthracite coal was very high quality and ideal for powering steam engines in railroads and ships, it was used in industry, not for heating. When the Cefn Coed Colliery was opened in the 1920s they started obviously by sinking a shaft. However, three attempts failed unsuccessful, and in 1926 the Llwynonn Colliery company was bought out by the Amalgamated Anthracite Combine of Ammanford. With a high capital investment they finally succeeded to cross the hard Blue Pennant sandstone and in 1930 the first coal was produced. The workings were about 800 m deep and Cefn Coed was the deepest anthracite mine in the world while it was operated. It took 2.5 minutes to travel to the bottom of the pit in the cage, and the same to come back up again. During the 1930s more than 5,500 men worked in the collieries in the Dulais Valley, and more than 140 pit ponies worked at Cefn Coed. The ponies spent 50 weeks of the year underground, they were only brought to the surface during the two weeks of the miners’ holidays every August, because the mine was closed and there was nobody to feed them underground.

The museum was opened in 1978 as a mining museum and was funded by the Neath Port Talbot Council. The land is owned by the Welsh Government and the site was leased by the council on a 100-year lease in the 1980s. Old mines and other industrial sites obviously create high costs for safety measures, and as the original operator is often bankrupt, the taxpayer has to pay those measures. The operation as a tourist site offers jobs and income, but is generally not reducing the cost for the site maintenance. The preservation of a site in addition to safety measure actually creates rather high additional costs. The discussions on the future of the Grade II listed colliery were going on for a number of years. A few years ago the Neath Port Talbot Council cut the funding and the site, which started to show signs of neglect. The listed headframe was dismantled in 2016 over safety concerns. The discussion who is responsible for the renovation, the owner or the lessee started, the museum lost.

Survey work at Cefn Coed colliery in spring 2021 has uncovered serious structural issues. This includes flaking stonework, unsafe tunnels, asbestos, and corrosion. Obviously the safety of the former industrial site is not the responsibility of the volunteers of the mining musuem. It was estimated that the emergency Health and Safety works would be in excess of £1.25 million. But an investment of around £8 million would be needed to keep it open as a visitor attraction. The museum was closed during 2021, and numerous improvements were made. The exact time of reopening in 2022 is not yet clear.